Archives for posts with tag: Traffic

As I write this post it’s 10 years to the week since the great financial crash of 2008, followed by years of turmoil and hardship, certainly in Ireland at any rate, before the provinces – by which I mean, in the English sense, the areas outside of the capital – started to recover, slowly and not so surely.

Not so Dublin, which probably recovered 5 years ago and is once again in the throes of a giddy period of boom. I’ve blogged before about the amount of construction going on in the city. The hotels are full – and I don’t mean some of them, I mean the city’s hotel capacity is maxed out – during the summer; you can’t get a room for anything reasonable. The roads are gorged with traffic all year round. You can’t get anywhere quickly, except by a fast walking.

I’m regularly in Dublin, but on my last visit I couldn’t help but marvel at the divide between the capital and the provinces, some of which are only just getting back on their feet. After fighting through town in a taxi – yes, even the bus lane was a car park – to make my train, I saw that, as usual, the train for Galway was departing from the group of 3 platforms that are two hundred-plus yardss further than the rest of the platforms. Not only that, but the train sits beyond an empty redundant train at the very top of the platform, a hundred and fifty yards further.

It brought it home to me, as provincial people in any country probably feel, that there’s Dublin, and then there’s outside Dublin, which doesn’t really matter much.

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A while ago I talked about umbrella wars in London. Lots of jousting and potential for losing an eye in the daily commute.

Interestingly, though, you only see the wars when pedestrian traffic is moving in more than one direction. The other day I was walking from London Bridge train station into the City at rush hour in the rain. Massive swathes of people all heading into work. All heading the same direction.

We crossed north over London Bridge, about 8-abreast. You can’t actually move in the opposing direction, unless you want to jostle with the buses and taxis on the road. The rest of us are in a moving umbrella gridlock, sucked along at one universal speed. You can’t overtake anyone, you can’t slow down. You can only exit from the edge of the river of people. Diagonal or sideways moves, fuggedaboudit.

Everyone moves as one, a huge, multi-umbrellaed beast, a giant tank of black plastic pointiness. It’s a bit of an odd feeling actually, especially if you like to plough your own furrow, metaphorically. When you can’t do it physically, it seems to impinge the metaphorical side. Moving umbrella gridlock.

 

I had occasion to visit the city of Belfast recently. Despite living within the same landmass for about a dozen years out of the last 17, I had only gone through Belfast on the train and never stopped in it.

It’s a nice, compact city, with a thriving centre and rolling countryside a few minutes away in every direction. Some of the regenerated city centre areas are very swanky and everything seems simply a stone’s throw away.

The folk are very friendly, the food and drink is good and accommodation likewise – at least in my very limited experience.

Unfortunately, like a lot of city centres, the traffic is truly awful. I left – or tried to leave – the centre at about 5pm on a weekday. Admittedly this is the heart of the rush hour, but with the spur onto the motorway a few hundred metres from downtown, I was confident I could get away in a reasonable time.

How wrong I was. Belfast was Belslow. It took me 40 minutes to go 200 metres, the principal culprit being 2 complex junctions within 10 metres of each other which operated on the same traffic light rotation. The result: gridlock, with no-one able to advance everywhere. The pedestrians simply scooted between the cars, blissfully free of the large metallic impediments that I and my fellow drivers were saddled with.

So a great visit to the capital was somewhat soured by the appalling traffic, not helped by the fact that once I got onto the motorway I had another three and a half hours to go.

Once cities sort their private transport challenges out, then they’ll really be motoring.